Anchor-Buoy-Pulley System for Anchoring Boats From Shore

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Many people have asked about the anchor-buoy system I invented to keep my boat from going dry at low tide so I put this page together to show how it's done. I've experimented with different systems since 1993. Each one improves upon the last. One of the biggest problems I've faced is weeds collecting on the rope and jamming my pulley. I've finally overcome this problem by constructing a pulley with 4 inch plastic pipe . This allows the weeds to easily pass through the pipe with very little resistance. The entire setup including the anchor can be assembled for less than $100 and takes about an hour to build.

A friend of mine wrote this article about my setup which diagrams it better than I can.

Here's what it looks like. The concept is simple. A pulley (plastic pipe) is anchored in deep water about 150ft from shore. 300ft goes through the pulley and is connected at each end to the bow of the boat. The rope is then tied to shore at the midway point above the high tide mark. To retrieve the boat you simply untie the rope from shore and pull on one side of the rope allowing the other side of the rope to move towards the boat and slide through the pulley. I've found it's best to use a second rope on shore tied to a tree to keep the ropes apart. (blue rope).

You will need to purchase the following items:

  • 300ft of 3/8 floating rope. Poly rope floats. Nylon does not.
  • 5 Gallon bucket to store the rope in.
  • 100ft of anchor rope.
  • 10ft of 3/8 galv chain and a chain link. (This would be for a 16ft boat. Use more chain for larger boats.)
  • Good anchor. Mine weighs 15lbs and can fold up for easy stowing.
  • Locking caribeener availble at REI. Make sure it is locking. I lost my boat twice when the rope crossed over and unhooked itself.
  • 2 ft of 4 inch plastic drain pipe. Get the cheap stuff.
  • Two 4 inch long radius 90 degree elbows that fit the pipe.
  • Plastic glue, small bolts, or aluminum pop rivets to fasten the elbows on the pipe.
  • 6ft of 3/8 or 1/2 rope for the pipe. Make sure it can fit through your floats.
  • 4-6 net floats used by commercial fisherman. I got mine at B&J Commercial in Anchorage. You could also use a single buoy but this takes up more room to store.
  • 100ft of rope for securing the poly rope to shore. Nylon or braided poly works well. Make sure you can easily tie knots with it. The cheap poly is not recommended for tying knots.
  • A second caribeener or large metal ring. (Optional)

Drill a bunch of 1 inch holes in your bucket to allow your rope to dry. If you don't your rope will never dry and will rot. A bucket is the best way to store rope over 100ft in length. You can pull it out as fast as you wish and it will never tangle. To construct the pulley simply attach the two elbows to the pipe and drill two 1/2 holes on each end for the anchor rope. Tie a knot in the middle of your 6ft piece of rope and slide three floats on each end. Tie the ends to the plastic pipe by stringing it through the two holes. This allows you to tie the knot from the outside of the pipe so no knots are inside to hang up. Make sure the rope is centered. Braid a loop in each end of the 300ft rope. Attach the caribeener to one end. Assemble your anchor, chain, and 100ft of rope. That's it! Let's give it a try.

You will need to find a beach that is at least the depth of the tide (about 20 ft) at 150 feet from the high tide mark. Use your depth finder and a tide book to figure this out. Remember to look at the major tide not the minor tide. Tie your shore rope to a good tree or log. I usually tie it to two trees 20ft apart so each end will just reach the high tide mark. Put a loop in one end. This will serve as the second pulley. You can also use the optional caribeener here to reduce friction.

Here you can see the loop I braided at each end. I wrapped it with tape just to make sure it would not come loose. Pull all the rope out of the bucket onto the beach and run one end through the shore rope.

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